Thursday, 30 June 2011

London 2012: A V&E How-to guide on Hospitality at the Games

In the Summer issue of Square Meal Venues & Events I've written an in-depth piece on everything you need to know in order to plan hospitality around the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Below are some key questions answered and a section on five things buyers need to know.

For the full six-page article, jump to page 179 in the digi-mag.

Key London 2012 Hospitality Questions Answered…

What can we expect from the catering at official Prestige hospitality?
We’re told that the food served to corporates and their guests will be high-quality British produce, with an emphasis on provenance and sourcing food from multi-generational providers. Expect this ‘Great British Experience’ to be a big part of the sell – the country will be basking in patriotism after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Prestige is currently in the process of appointing catering companies for each location, and promises there won’t be a celebrity chef in sight.

Why is there no hospitality being offered at venues such as Lord’s (archery)?
Any venue with poor sight lines to the action or deemed to have limited group appeal has been withdrawn from offering official hospitality packages.

What about all the fighting and table tennis action happening at ExCeL?
The likelihood is that Prestige Ticketing will come up with packages for the Olympic action at ExCeL as the venue has been told it can’t produce its own. No package details were available at time of press.

Will corporates be able to access the Olympic Park for picnic entertaining during the Games?
It is anticipated that there will be restrictions put in place to prevent access to the Park without an event ticket, but this may simply involve buying day passes. Agencies are also advising clients that restrictions on taking alcohol and food into the Park may also be imposed to protect sponsorship rights holders. That said, Square Meal V&E understands that LOCOG is looking into granting permission to provide non-sponsor-branded food within the Park after complaints in Beijing that the only snack available was McDonald’s.

Which brands are likely to feature heavily on the hospitality circuit?
The Worldwide Olympic Partners signed up for London 2012 are Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos Origin, Dow Chemical Company, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung and Visa. LOCOG then has seven domestic Tier One Partners - Adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB. And seven domestic Tier Two Supporters – Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS. With a further 24 domestic Tier Three suppliers and providers and Sainsbury's signed up as the one domestic Tier One Paralympic Games Partner, there is sure to be a host of activity from everyone involved.

Will Olympics hospitality cause a decline in the sale of packages at other sporting events such as Wimbledon?
Ted Walker of hospitality agency Keith Prowse is confident that there will be no impact on hospitality at annual blue riband sporting events. ‘The fact is that we are blessed with a decade of iconic sporting events for which the demand for hospitality will be high. It started with the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and will include the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the Rugby League World Cup in 2013. Clients are allocating their budget to buy into not just London 2012 but the whole decade of sporting excellence in the UK.’

Should companies be worried about how the Bribery Act will impact on their 2012 hospitality plans?
No. Section Nine of the Act makes it clear that corporate hospitality, which seeks to improve the image of a commercial organisation better to present products and services, or establish cordial relations, is an established and important part of doing business. It is not the intention of the Act to criminalise such behaviour.

Things buyers need to know…
1. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) cracked down on black market ticketing at Beijing, with many companies left stunned when they discovered they’d purchased unofficial packages. London 2012 will impose even tighter controls.

2. Prestige Ticketing is using three authorised sales agents in the UK. They are Sportsworld (Tel: 01235 555 844), Keith Prowse (Tel: 020 3137 7420) and IMG (Tel: 020 8233 5854).

3. Re-selling Olympic tickets is illegal and applicants who receive balloted tickets will not be allowed to re-sell them on eBay or as part of unofficial hospitality offerings. Anyone caught illegally trading could be hit with a fine of up to £20,000.

4. When buying packages for team sports such as football, hockey, volleyball and handball, be aware that there is no way of knowing at this stage when your country of choice will compete.

5. A levy placed on Prestige Ticketing hospitality will pay for a Ticketshare scheme, enabling 125,000 school children to experience the Games. A further 50,000 tickets will also be distributed to schools across the UK under the same guidelines and 25,000 tickets will be allocated to other goodwill causes such as Tickets for Troops.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

See sold out Olympic sport one year early...

London will be warming up for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in August by staging the BWF World Badminton Championships and ITU World Championship Series Triathlon.

Both Championship events will form part of an exciting week of international sport, with spectators having the chance to see the Triathlon for free and Badminton for as little as £10.

The BWF World Badminton Championships will take place at Wembley Arena from 8-14 August and the ITU World Championship Series Triathlon will be in Hyde Park on 6 and 7 August.

More than 1.8 million people applied for tickets in the first-round of the 2012 Olympic ticket phase and both Badminton and the Triathlon sold out. Next month however, Londoners and visitors to the UK capital will have the opportunity to see the top athletes from each sport in action, with less than one year to go before they battle it out during London 2012.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “For these two great international events to be sold out already is glorious testimony to the huge sporting enthusiasm that exists in the capital and throughout the UK.  We couldn’t send out a better message to the world's sporting federations that if you want to fill seats, hold your event in London. And I am particularly excited that our world famous Wembley arena is hosting its first ever World Badminton Championship, a perfect dry run for the 2012 Olympic Badminton events."

Held at Wembley Arena (the venue for Badminton and Rhythmic Gymnastics at the London 2012 Games), this will be the third time England has hosted the World Badminton Championships, but only the first time they have been staged in London.

The London leg of the ITU World Championship Series Triathlon will be held for the third time in Hyde Park and feature the world number 1 triathlete, GB’s Alistair Brownlee.
Access for the event, also supported by the Mayor of London and part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme, is free to spectators throughout the weekend.

Iain Edmondson, Head of Major Events at London & Partners added: “The Badminton and the Triathlon world championship events signify key milestones for London as an ever growing sports events destination. Both events feature globally recognised and highly popular sports which have chosen London as host for their world championships. These events not only give us the invaluable opportunity to learn how we can host other major events after 2012 but also give young people in London more chances to be inspired by top class sport.”

For more information on The Yonex BWF World Badminton Championships at Wembley Arena, join my Facebook fan site or visit the official website.